On Aug. 2 I was honored to share the story of my journey into shamanism for the Sunday service at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Jacksonville.
This is the written version of my story.
“I am Love… I am Love…I am love”
I am a shaman.
When I am introduced as Shaman I always see eyes widen – even if only slightly. It is a word that vibrates with mystical meaning and is often misunderstood. When I practice my shamanic healings I don’t go into a trancelike state or dance like an animal or put masks on. I do open up to guidance from spirit and I will be the first to acknowledge that I am only a facilitator for the work or a vessel – that spirit does the real work of moving the energy that is not serving my client.
How does one become a shaman? Though usually one will have a calling from spirit to do the work there are mentors and the process is teachable.
Almost all indigenous cultures practice some form of shamanism. The spectrum of rituals and beliefs is wide but there are common threads that weave through all of the practices.
Shaman walk in both worlds. They have one foot firmly planted in this reality and one foot firmly placed in the spirit world. They preform healings to bring people and the earth back into balance.
Shaman acknowledge and tribute their success to their ancestors – their blood lineage as well as the lineage of their teachers. In the following testament I acknowledge my parents, the lineage of Hawaiian teacher I have had, and the Earthkeepers - the shaman of the Q'uero - who came down the Andes mountains to share their knowledge.
My parents found great inspiration from the writings of Carlos Castenada and Don Miguel Ruiz. They taught me that God was in all living things and if I wanted to feel closer to God I should spend time in nature and reflect on the magic of life and the cycles this environment presented. They did their best to instill in me that I could do whatever I conceived, that my beliefs could create my reality.
Fate took my family to Hawaii where I was privileged to learn the healing arts from some of the best practitioners. Essential to the practice of energy and healing work is the ability to become a hollow bone or a vessel that divine light or the guidance from spirit can move through. I learned about Aloha – unconditional love. Aloha means hello, goodbye and “I love you”. The deeper understanding of Aloha stems from "Ha". "Ha" is the breath of life. It is the understanding that that we are all connected through the breath of life – We all breathe in and out one another – so how could I wish you anything but love.
All shaman go through initiations where they must move through the challenges of reality demonstrating the understanding that everything is a manifestation of energy. Shaman eyes see past the illusion of circumstance and dream reality into being. I was never sent on a vision quest or prescribed hallucinogenic plants to take me on a great journey. Life experience brought my initiations to me. Each challenge presented a circumstance that appeared unmanageable. I had to see past the illusion of reality and stay focused on only what I wanted. With each challenge I had to choose to be trapped by my fear or move toward love.
The first initiation presented as an unplanned pregnancy. I had no idea of how I could provide for a child, how our needs would be met. I choose love for a soul who I had not yet met over the fear of not being able to meet the demands of motherhood. I stayed focus on only what I needed… pushing out the fearful thoughts of what we would do without and the anxiety of how things would present. Everything we needed came from an unexpected source, clothes, furniture, work to financially sustain us. My son is my greatest love – I can’t imagine if I had given in to my fears and did not have him in my life.
The next initiation presented as a toxic marriage that ended in a dramatic divorce that left me in dire circumstance. Once again I had to choose love or fear. I cleansed my heart and forgave as much as I knew how. I practiced walking in grace when all I wanted to do was crawl into a hole and die. I learned how to see through the illusion of my victimization and embrace being 100% responsible for my life so I could empower myself to move through what appeared to be the staggering truth of my reality. One miracle after another occurred as I kept my focus only on what I desired and dreamed my reality into being.
My most recent initiation presented as a visit to the emergency room with a terrible prognosis. When I awoke that morning my right arm was a bit swollen. I did all I knew how to decrease the swelling – but it proceeded to worsen. By 10:00 that evening my arm was at least 4-5 times it’s normal size. Somehow I had developed a staph infection and it was threatening to spread to my torso. The doctors were preparing me to have my arm amputated the next day. I could either choose the dismal circumstance I was presented with or I could choose to see life as an illusion – a manifestation of energy. I did what anyone would do. I prayed. I prayed to God. I prayed to Jesus. I prayed to anything with love and goodness that could hear and would be willing to help. I opened myself to receiving any healing guidance and energy that was available. That night was very interesting. I was not sleeping – hospital staff was coming in every 30 minutes to check my vitals. I was aware of how cold I was and kept asking for more heated blankets. I was aware of the discomfort of my arm. At the same time I was aware of spirit. Spirit came to me in the form of light beings that were helping me – showing me how to wrap the spinal cord in light, to sweep the infection away. As I was consciously in my hospital bed I was also taken on a journey – swimming through the oceans and flying past the highest mountain tops. If I was dreaming it was the most vivid dream I had ever experienced. That morning the infection had receded and my arm size decreased 50% - I was able to keep my right arm but I was not out of the woods yet. The staph infection was caused by a blood clot that had formed under my clavicle and half way down my upper arm. The medical option to resolve the matter was to keep me on blood thinners until the clot was small enough to allow me to stabilize. Then they would preform surgery to remove my first rib – opening the space that head created the clotting. I don’t know about you – but this did not seem like a good idea to me. My situation was one in a billion they said…. Simply this should not happen and there was no reason for it to happen. There was nothing for me to do except nothing and wait… literally nothing. With the blood clot breaking down I could feel pulmonary embolisms moving through my lungs. I was a heart attack waiting to happen – which did happen – I had had near death experiences before – but this one left me with the ability to see all that would be lost if I had not come back. I have never been so scared and so grateful to have another chance.
I am not one to settle with the circumstances I am given and allow them to dictate my life. There was nothing proactive I could really do. I choose to see this as another illusion that I could move through but I knew I needed help. I called on one of my teachers Her instruction was to say with every breath in and out “I am love.” She also had the feeling I needed to fully forgive my ex husband. I tried to argue and say I already had but she cut me off with her last piece of advice. Love heals all.
I knew some energy workers in Hawaii. They don’t call themselves shaman –but they work with spirit to bring the balance back to the world. The sessions I experienced resolved my medical issue in record time and opened my eyes in a way that would not allow reality to ever be the same.
I went to my first healing session with the intention of forgiving my ex-husband as my kumu had instructed me to do… something I already felt had been done. However I respected my teachers intuition and had done enough work with her to see that she was usually spot on. Sacred space was set – spirit was invited in to guide us and deliver me to forgiveness. What ensued took my breath away, caused me to cry out and torrents of tears to wash my face. I had practiced energy work for years but nothing had ever been so tangible before. I felt as though my heart was stretched open and all the pain this relationship created rushed out. I felt as though I was taken with this gust of energy up to the stars and there was my ex-husband – only I saw him with all the compassion and understanding God has for man. I saw how he had done his best for what he was working with. I saw how he had awoken me to my power. I was filled with knowing that we are all love and only love is real in this human game of forgetting that we are all one pretending to be separate so we may discover what that is. I discovered that to ForGive is to give like before – before any wrongness happened – before any judgment occurred.
The next few healings were equally as powerful. Spirit guided my healers and I to open my heart even wider. I had always thought that there was not a lot to remember about my childhood – that what ever had occurred was not worth the mental storage. The energy work that was done to open my heart brought back my lost inner children - all of them bringing with them my memories. Shaman call this soul retrieval. When we go through upset it part of our soul goes into hiding – this allows us to remove ourselves from the pain of life to find the peace we need to keep moving forward. As my soul parts came back with my memories I realized that the beginning of my life was too painful to hold on to. The healing sessions brought the same God Love – the same compassion and understanding for all those who had harmed and tormented me. I was able to see beyond my perspective and felt only love and compassion for every person involved in my life despite the choices they made that traumatized me so terribly.
Half way through my healing process we moved from HI to FL. I was meditating a lot and developing a deeper relationship with spirit through this gateway within. I received strong guidance that I needed to continue my energy healings and should seek out a shamanic mentor and learn more about this practice. Serendipity occurred taking me right to a shaman who was about to start a series of workshops sharing the ancient knowledge of the Q’uero, the mystic Earthkeepers who lived high in the Andes and came down the mountain to share their secrets. Each workshop has led me to a deeper relationship with self, the earth, and understanding life as energy. In a world where energy and spirit are often in question it is humbling to participate in a way that offers tangible results.
In November I was honored to make it to a Shamanic Ceremony in Miami where the Q’uero preformed a divination for mankind and mother earth. Their words echo in my mind. That great changes are just beginning, that there will be a great challenges for us to face, there will be no safe places, only safe people. Their advice was “To live your life like a prayer.”
Incorporating the shamanic practice into my life allows me to constantly live my life like a prayer, consciously choosing love… Sowing these seeds of love everywhere.
It is my prayer today – that sharing my story with you will inspire you to walk like a shaman, to see life as a manifestation of energy, an illusion that you can wrap your love around and break through the fear.
A friend of mine asked me, "How do you do that? Wrap your love around your fear?"
After thinking about it - I realized that the tricky thing is - is that fear often doesn't look like fear. Fear shrouds itself in many disguises. The disguise of comfort, practicality, financial capability, righteousness, acceptance.
The way that I strip off the layers of my fears so that I may discover my true desire is to ask myself 3 questions:
"If money were not an issue - say - money doesn't exist or you have all the money you will ever need to do anything - what would you choose to do?"
"If no one expected anything from you - you had no roles to fulfill - not one - not daughter, son, mother, father, spouse, boss, business associate, mentor, community leader or member - If nothing was expected of you - what would you choose to do?"
"If there was nothing I thought I should be doing right now - what would I do? If I had no tasks, no chores, there was no right or good thing to do - what do I want to do?"
Those questions always open up some possibility in every situation.
Thank you allowing me to share my story. Thank you in advance for choosing Love. To Love Your Life, Love Yourself, and Love Those Around You.